UPDATED: On Jan. 18, 2021, I received a response from the Minister’s Office. A copy of the signed letter is available here — Minister Reply Mayor Meed Ward Letter re Elections Act_Jan 18 2021.
Earlier today, I sent a letter to the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding Bill 218, advocating that local choice on election systems be retained, and requesting the province consult with municipalities in advance of making major legislative changes.
That letter is reproduced below, and the PDF link is here: Ranked Ballots
Office of the Mayor
426 Brant Street
The Honourable Premier Doug Ford
Room 281 Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
The Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
777 Bay Street, 17th Floor
October 30, 2020
Dear Premier and Minister Clark,
The recent announcement by the provincial government in Bill 218, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, to revoke the power for Ontario municipalities to conduct ranked ballot votes for municipal elections has come as a surprise.
This change eliminates local choice in elections and was inserted into the legislation with no consultation with municipalities, even though several have begun the process of consulting the public, have held referenda receiving majority support, or, in the case of London, Ont., have adopted the system.
Burlington City Council passed a motion Sept. 28, 2020 directing staff to begin public consultation on the use of ranked ballots in future municipal elections in our city. Council was looking forward to hearing directly from residents whether or not they want to retain the current first–past–the–post system, or adopt ranked ballots. Their voice, and choice, are eliminated with this proposed bill.
In addition, a motion from Burlington City Councillors Shawna Stolte and Rory Nisan is being presented at a special meeting of Burlington City Council on Monday, Nov. 2 asking your government to retain the option for local choice. Please refer to Agenda, item 6.1.
Regardless of ones views on ranked ballots, the issue is local choice. Municipalities are an independent and responsible order of government, and the one closest to the people. Our residents should choose for themselves which system they prefer.
The provincial government is respectfully requested:
* to amend Bill 218 to retain local choice on electoral systems; and
* to meaningfully consult with municipalities on municipal issues before introducing legislative changes of this magnitude.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
City of Burlington
cc: MPPs Jane McKenna, Effie Triantafilopoulos, Parm Gill
Graydon Smith, President, AMO
Brian Rosborough, Executive Director, AMO
Anna Hopkins, Chair, Large Urban Caucus, AMO
Cam Guthrie, Chair, Ontario Big City Mayors Caucus
Burlington City Council